A part fell out of my camcorder and now it plays poorly and eats tapes. This sounds like a tape guide came loose. SAVE the part !!! In most cases it can be reinstalled for less than replacing the entire guide/base assembly. In rare cases, the loose guide hits the drum assembly and damages the video heads. Use of cleaning tapes may contribute to this problem.
The camcorder shuts off and displays an error symbol. Most errors are mechanical in nature. Try removing the main and backup batteries for about an hour. Reinstall the main battery only and try again. If you can get the offending tape out, try a fresh one. If it still errors, it's time for professional help.
The camcorder turns on then turns off. Most frequently this is caused by mechanical problems such as gummy lubricants, jammed or bent parts or bad tapes (stuck inside). If the cause is limited to a bad tape, you will probably get by for a bench charge. Otherwise expect to spend $120 to $160 on repairs.
The camcorder is dead. The possibilities here are infinite, but usually caused by use of an incorrect power source, being dropped, or wet. Repairs run from replacing fuse devices to major circuit board repair.
Various mechanical symptoms, failure to load, unload, noisy operation. On older units this can be components, especially surface mount capacitor aging. Expect to spend upwards of $200. On newer units suspect connectors and/or connections. This will probably run in the $150 area.
My camcorder comes on for a few seconds then turns off. Most commonly this is a battery problem, even with new (especially aftermarket) batteries. Try running it directly from it's AC power supply/charger. If it works, that battery is probably bad. Refer to the Batteries section under "Care & Feeding". The problem can also be caused by mechanical problems, but usually you will hear the mechanism trying to do something before it shuts off.
VIDEO PLAYBACK SYMPTOMS
There is a white bar or bars at the top or bottom of the picture. This can be caused by tape guides working loose or falling out all together. Depending on the cause, repairs will probably run in the $150 area. Also see "A part fell out of my camcorder" (above).
No video, just snow. May or may not have audio. This is a classic symptom of head clogging. Resist the temptation to use one of those fancy cleaning cassettes (see "Cleaning" under "Care & Feeding"). This can usually be taken care of for our minimum bench charge. If the symptom occurred as a result of a trauma, such as getting wet or being dropped, it will be worse than basic head cleaning.
My old camcorder has picture problems (dark, distorted). It may also smell bad. In the early days of camcorders the surface mount capacitors used an electrolyte that smelled like bad fish when it leaked. Over time this leakage can corrode circuit boards to the point where problems become evident and repairs approach the cost of new equipment.
There is a streak or mark on my color viewfinder. If the mark is dark, try removing the lens assembly and blowing any dust and hair out. If the mark is light, it is probably a burn caused from the sun shining through the eyepiece which is focused on the viewfinder screen and burning it. There is no fix for this other than a new LCD assembly (expensive). Keep the eyepiece pointed to the rear or slightly down to minimize the chance of the sun shining directly into it.
My 8mm unit will record and play back those tapes ok, but will not play tapes I made a few months ago. This sounds like tape guide / tape path alignment is changing. Most often caused by lock screws working loose. It will require complete electrical and mechanical realignment. Expect to spend around $150 to $160. The bad news is that when completed, you will be able to play the old tapes again, but recent recordings may not play.
AUDIO PLAYBACK SYMPTOMS
Intermittent loss of audio on 8mm units. Typically this is an early sign of tape guide problems. See "White bar at top of picture" above.
There is a "roar" or "ocean like" sound on some recordings, or record volume may be low. This can be microphone or mic amp circuit problems. Replacement mics generally run around $50 and about the same for labor. Mic amp problems can run into the $150ish area.
I can hear the camcorder motor in the recorded audio. Problem worse on quiet scenes. On camcorders, some motor noise will always be picked up due to the microphone being mounted directly on the unit. Various electronic and mechanical failures can make the problem worse. Repairs range from mechanical service (if you can hear the noise while recording) to possibly replacing motors (very expensive) if there is no apparent noise while recording.
Autofocus does not work well. (manual focus ok). Possible binding lens caused by grit or impact. This is not economical to repair as the lens assemblies run in the $300 area (plus labor). It can also be caused by electrical adjustments and alignments, in which case expect to spend $150 to $200. Also read Auto focus in the "Care & Feeding" pages.
I cannot focus sharply (manual or auto). Check for out of focus graphics in the viewfinder. If so, adjust the viewfinder focus (knob or lever on the viewfinder). Also check for missing parts in the viewfinder. If the recorded picture is out of focus when played back on a TV, suspect a damaged lens (not economical to repair).
The picture is dark inside and washes out outside. This points toward a malfunctioning iris. The reasons range from contamination to electronic problems, but usually can be handled for $150 to $180.
I can't record but playback is ok. First check the power save / standby switch near the record button. Also check the record safety tab on the cassette. If both are in the proper position, a mechanical problem is indicated. Probably in the $120 to $180 area.
Courtesy Halle's Service, Inc.
Last modified: March 31, 2007